Hegel’s analysis of contract in the Philosophy of Right sheds light on the recent debate concerning the cancellation of the public debt held by the European Central Bank. By showing why contracts cannot actualize independently from the state, Hegel insists on the impossibility of considering society as deriving exclusively from contractual relations. The latter can only be actualized against the background of a fully constituted political totality (i.e., the state), which consequently cannot fall under the abstract rationality proper to the contract. It is therefore a contradiction to consider the state as a debtor irrevocably bound to comply with its debt contracts.
- Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel